Sepsis and COVID-19

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, emerged as a global pandemic in 2020. Experts suggest that the virus could flare up seasonally for years to come. COVID-19 is extremely contagious, resulting in high rates of infection and mortality. Any type of infection can lead to sepsis­­–and many people who die from coronavirus in fact die from sepsis. Pneumonia, which frequently leads to sepsis, is a particular risk for those with COVID-19 but viral infections can affect all organs in the body. Early COVID-19 studies have shown high rates of liver and kidney dysfunction, in addition to the effects on the respiratory system which are the hallmark of COVID-19 infection. Sepsis survivors can also be at increased risk due to already-compromised immune systems.

Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild to severe. It is important to know that the incubation period before symptoms appear can last from 2-14 days­–and some people infected with the virus will display no symptoms at all. This means that you can transfer the disease to those you come in contact with before, or without, experiencing symptoms yourself. Here are the most common symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Chills (repeated shaking with chills)
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste and smell

The signs of sepsis are:

  • Rapid breathing and fast heartbeat
  • Pale or mottled skin
  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Fever and chills
  • Feeling the sickest you’ve ever felt
  • Extreme pain

COVID-19 spreads when respiratory droplets released through coughing, sneezing, or talking move from an infected person to an uninfected person. This generally occurs when people are standing within six feet of one another. It can also spread if a person touches a surface with the virus on it and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes. The virus can survive on surfaces for up to four days.

Risk Factors.
Those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 are:

  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Older adults living in a nursing homes or assisted care facilities
  • Those with underlying medical conditions, including:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised
    • People with severe obesity
    • People with diabetes
    • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    • People with liver disease

Due to the strain on the healthcare system and the shortage of diagnostic tests, it is recommended that those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 remain at home, self-quarantine, and keep in contact with their healthcare provider by phone. Those experiencing difficulty breathing or a severe fever should seek medical care and may be administered a diagnostic test.

If you have mild symptoms, stay at home until you’ve recovered. You can relieve your symptoms if you:

  • Rest and sleep
  • Keep warm
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough

No drugs or other therapeutics to treat COVID-19 have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilatory support are used to treat severe symptoms of COVID-19.

No drugs or therapeutics to prevent COVID-19 have been approved by the FDA. The following recommendations can help prevent the transmission of the virus:

  • Clean your hands often by washing with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are feeling unwell
  • Wear a mask when outdoors or in an enclosed public space such as a supermarket
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze with a clean tissue on the crook of your arm
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently
  • Clean and disinfect items that enter your home, including groceries and packages
  • Self-quarantine in your home if you or people you have been in close contact with are unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

COVID-19 and Children.

Although children of all ages can become sick with coronavirus disease, children, in general, do not become as sick as adults do. In fact, children with an active infection might not show any signs or symptoms at all. But some children have developed more serious symptoms which is being called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children (MIS-C). The condition is rare and most children who have it will eventually get better with good medical care. However if your child shows any signs or symptoms, you must get help fast.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) 

 We don’t yet know what causes MIS-C but we do know that children with this condition had the virus that causes COVID-19 or had been around someone with COVID-19. Children can become very ill with symptoms resembling toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki Disease. MIS-C can cause inflammation in the heart, lungs, kidney, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Child with MIS-C Include :(see your doctor)

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Neck pain or enlarged lymph node in the neck
  • Rash
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Feeling extra tired
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Cracked lips
  • Swollen tongue of tongue that looks like a strawberry

Seek Emergency Care for the Following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Flu-like symptoms with high fever (toxic shock syndrome)
  • Sunburn-like rash (toxic shock syndrome)
  • Low blood pressure (toxic shock syndrome)
  • Very high heart rate (toxic shock syndrome)

At The Hospital:

If you need to take your child to the hospital, a number of tests could be performed: blood tests, chest x-ray, heart ultrasound, abdominal ultrasound. Depending on the severity of the illness, your child may be treated in the pediatric intensive care unit.


Different types of therapies are used that target the immune system and reduce inflammation. A child may receive anti-inflammatory drugs and other medication to reduce inflammation in affected organs. If the hospital suspects your child an active infection the hospital with use measures to care for the infection.

Experts agree that the best way to care for your children at this time is to keep up with their vaccinations and to practice good hand hygiene and social distancing measures. This does not mean you should keep your children indoors. Fresh air and exercise are important for healthy development–but avoid highly-trafficked places with a lot of “high touch” surfaces, such as playgrounds. You can help your child understand the importance of hand-washing through our book, Ouch! I Got a Cut!, designed for early readers and available on Amazon. All proceeds from book sales support the work of End Sepsis.

COVID-19 and Older Adults.
Adults 65 years and older are at increased risk of becoming severely ill if they contract COVID-19. In fact, eight out of ten reported deaths from COVID-19 are in this age group. The prevention measures outlined above are particularly crucial for this segment of the population–and it is further advised that older adults stay home if at all possible. A short video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains what older adults need to know about COVID-19: View Here.